This book series was by far the highlight of my week for a number of reasons. I wanted to introduce some recently arrived books (for our new ER library) to our students before the summer holiday. When I held up this book to show everyone, girls faces exploded with smiles, squeals and fond memories. They excitedly explained that they knew this book because it was in their elementary school 2nd grade Kokugo (Japanese class) textbook. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on these books.
I gave them the following task:
“Today, we’re going to try some INPUT → OUTPUT. We’ll start the INPUT by you LISTENING to me explain the task and then you READING a book. After that, we’ll work on OUTPUT by you either SPEAKING or WRITING – whichever is easier for you.”
- Please choose 1 of the 5 stories in the book and read it (each pair of girls had their own copy of one title from this series of about 10 Arnold Lobel books).
- Work with your partner to understand the story. If you both can’t understand something, skip over it or ask me.
- Come up and tell me a summary of the story, or write out a summary of the story. I also want to know your comments on the book – your feelings, ideas and thoughts about the story.
The students were so into it right from the start. The biggest thing I noticed with the Chu 3 girls (grade 9) was their obvious and pitifully sad lack of experience actually USING GRAMMAR they’ve learned in order to PROCESS MEANING. I’m so convinced that if they spent a month working with this level story everyday, they could learn so much by being engaged with language for the purpose of understanding and conveying MEANING.
They were highly motivated doing this task because of the good memories they had of the book. They were also extremely satisfied – downright happy – when they could figure out the meaning of a part they were struggling with. I can see a lot of potential and other ways to exploit this series as an effective learning opportunity. I invite you to give it a try and let me know what happens.